No apps, no sale: iPad 2 vs. Motorola Xoom vs RIM Playbook vs HP TouchPad

UPDATE: Over on Quora we’ve been discussing the iPad vs. Motorola Xoom in far more detail than here. You might want to read that post there, to get a more nuanced view of what the competition is really like.

So, now that I’ve seen the iPad 2, see my short video above, or go and watch all the videos over on Apple’s website or view the pages of content poured into blogs over on Techmeme.

iPad 2 Launch Photos

We now know what the choice is:

1. Apple iPad 2. Has apps. 65,000 of them.
2. Motorola Xoom. Has no apps. Oh, sorry. 16. At least no apps designed for the large format. Designing an app that works on a smart phone isn’t the same as designing one that works on a large screen. Most of the apps I’ve “stretched” really suck compared to their iPad equivalents.
3. HP TouchPad. Has no apps. Heck, it isn’t even shipping yet.
4. RIM PlayBook. Has no apps. Heck, it isn’t even shipping yet.

No apps, no sale.

iPad 2 Launch Photos

It really is that simple.

OK, OK, I know some of you think hardware matters. It doesn’t, but if it did, Apple’s hardware is nicer designed. Just look at the back of the new iPad. All one piece. The Xoom is two separate pieces. Think that doesn’t matter? Look at the back of my Motorola. It looks like crap already and it’s only two weeks old. Plus, the on/off button is in a weird place. I keep hitting it when trying to read on it in bed.

iPad 1 vs iPad 2

The screen resolution? It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any apps. Yeah, Motorola has 20% more resolution. Pull up a web browser. Does it matter? Not really. I can’t see the difference other than the screen is a little wider form factor than the iPad’s. That’s nice, but will it sell units? No. Apps matter more.

The sound capabilities? Those don’t matter if you don’t have any apps.

The battery life? Well Apple is better here than the Xoom or other devices. Battery life matters more to me and many others than a slight screen resolution increase.

What about HP’s TouchPad? I like it a lot. It’s nicer designed than the Motorola Xoom. It should be, it was designed by a few people who used to work for Steve Jobs at Apple. If the HP were out nine months ago it would have been a great device to buy and compare to the iPad. Their OS and multitasking metaphor really is awesome, albeit might be a bit slower here and there (we’ll see when we actually get one). A few major problems: 1. It isn’t shipping. Probably won’t be until June. 2. It has no apps. No apps no sale.

Move on to the RIM PlayBook. It didn’t score with users as well as the Motorola Xoom and it doesn’t have Google and its Android ecosystem behind it. So, I can’t see anyway that it will come in higher than #3. This means that developers won’t develop apps for it. No apps, no sale.

Anyone else out there? No.

So, how is this next year going to play out? Google needs to hit it out of the park at its iO event this spring and needs to convince developers that Android’s Tablet strategy matters. Google can easily consolidate the #2 space and next year they can eat away at Apple’s app lead.

It’s sad, too. I really like the hardware that HP, RIM, and Motorola, amongst others, have done. I just can’t recommend you buy any of those others.

No apps, no sale.

iPad wins big time.

iPad 1 (left) vs iPad 2

Oh, and if you disagree with me and think specs and speeds matter more than apps, go check out Engadget’s comparison chart.

UPDATE: the keynote of Steve Jobs showing off the iPad from this morning is now live.